ATHENS, Ohio — The Battle of the Bricks, decided by a boot.
The 96th gridiron meeting between Ohio University and Mid-American Conference rival Miami went the way of the guests on Wednesday at Peden Stadium, with Sam Sloman making a 53-yard field goal to give the RedHawks a 24-21 victory.
Miami (5-4, 4-1 MAC) — taking sole possession of first place in the MAC East Division — never trailed in the game, going ahead 7-0 with a 45-yard touchdown run by Jaylon Bester and Sloman’s first of three point-after kicks with 9:59 left in the first half.
Ohio (4-5, 3-2) answered on its next possession and tied the game at seven with 6:29 left in the half, going 75 yards in seven plays, capped off by a four-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Rourke to Ty Walton and Louie Zervos’ first of three point-after kicks.
The RedHawks reestablished their edge on the other side of the break, with Jack Sorenson catching a 21-yard touchdown pass from Brett Gabbert 5:17 into the second half.
The Bobcats tied the game at 14 1:21 into the fourth quarter, with Rourke scoring on a one-yard run. However, Miami needed just two plays to get the seven points back, with Bester scoring on a seven-yard run, set up by a 63-yard pass from Gabbert to James Maye.
The hosts went 75 yards in seven plays on the ensuing drive, tying it up at 21 with a nine-yard run from Rourke at the 8:58 mark of the fourth.
Miami took 5:10 off the clock in 10 plays, before Sloman’s 53-yard field goal with 3:48 to play. The Bobcats never made it back to the RedHawk side of the field and fell by a 24-21 count.
Ohio claimed a 25-to-14 edge in first downs and a 374-to-278 advantage in total offense, including a 241-to-129 margin in rushing yards. OU held an advantage of over 12 minutes in possession time, but committed both of the game’s turnovers. Both teams were penalized six times, Miami for 60 yards and Ohio for 40.
Rourke — who was 15-of-27 passing for 133 yards and one touchdown — finished with a net of 89 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, after being sacked three times.
De’Montre Tuggle had 74 yards on 12 carries, and hauled in a team-best four passes for 19 yards. O’Shaan Allison ran seven times for 43 yards, while Julian Ross finished with 34 yards on 10 totes.
Cameron Odom caught three passes for 34 yards in the loss, while Isiah Cox and Jerome Buckner had two grabs apiece, for 35 and 18 yards respectively. Walton — who ran once for one yard — had one four-yard touchdown grab. Tyler Tupa caught a 12-yard pass, Ryan Luehrman reeled in an eight-yard pass, while Shane Hooks picked up three yards on his only reception.
Javon Hagan had a team-best nine tackles, including five solo for Ohio. Cole Baker, Ilyaas Motley, Xavior Motley and Jack McCorory each claimed half of a sack in the setback.
For Miami, Gabbert was 10-of-18 passing for 149 yards and a touchdown. Bester claimed 84 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, while Sorenson picked up 44 yards and one score on a team-best three receptions. Ryan McWood’s 13 tackles led the RedHawk defense.
The Bobcats will be on short rest, as they return to Peden Stadium on Tuesday against Western Michigan.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.